Council's £200m privatisation deal with ENGIE to be scrutinised

A privatisation deal between Wakefield Council and a property management firm will be publicly scrutinised again next week.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 11:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 11:54 am
Wakefield Town Hall
Wakefield Town Hall

ENGIE took on a £200m contract to maintain the council's buildings and schools in the district in October 2016, but the relationship has come under strain after numerous difficulties.

It emerged last September that ENGIE had been fined around £100,000 by the local authority for failing to deliver on more than 900 specific obligations since the start of 2017.

The council also said that the financial information it was getting from the company was "poor at best", though leader Peter Box later insisted that the deal was delivering the savings that had been expected when the contract was signed.

Wilfrid Petrie, CEO of ENGIE, whose firm was charged 100,000 by the council last year.

An improvement plan for ENGIE was then put in place, but the authority did not rule out the possibility of ending the deal early.

There has been silence from both parties about progress on that ever since, but next Monday council officers will give an update about ENGIE's performance.

A report for the authority's audit committee said: "The council is committed to delivering high quality, appropriate, timely and value for money services for its citizens and businesses.

"The council is delivering property and facilities services through its designated partner, ENGIE.

"It is the responsibility of ENGIE to ensure the Council’s buildings, property and assets are well managed, safe and support the delivery of services to the public.

"The council in entering into the partnership for the delivery of property, facilities management and related services sought to enable a more efficient and commercial approach to be undertaken, securing local jobs for local people within a more sustainable environment demonstrating the council’s commitment to being business-minded and socially responsible."

The ENGIE deal, which was the biggest privatisation in the council's history, saw more than 700 workers transfer from the council to the company three years ago.

Taxpayers were told then that the deal would save £10m over the course of a decade.